Can't beat good book

July 22, 2005

Scientists will be affected by the low significance given to books by research assessment exercise panels ("Will RAE be wooed by weight of words?", July 15). In previous RAEs, science monographs and textbooks seemed to count little, no matter how scholarly, how good the reviews and how important for the development of a field the book might be.

Unsurprisingly, academic presses are reporting increasing difficulty in getting UK scientists to undertake the task of writing textbooks in particular, as these are valued so little in the RAE.

I hope one change resulting from the RAE consultation process, starting this week, will be greater weight given to the contribution academics can make to a subject by creating good books.

Tristram Wyatt

Oxford University

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